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Long-life probiotic products are now a reality

Packaging giant, SIG, and Irish microencapsulation specialist, AnaBio Technologies, have jointly launched a prototype long-life probiotic drinking yoghurt for a global market.

“This game changing development creates a new product category; probiotic beverages packed in aseptic carton packs and spouted pouches which are shelf-stable for prolonged storage periods without refrigeration,” the companies stated.

“Until now it has not been possible to incorporate probiotics into aseptic beverage packaging due to their inability to survive common heat treatments used in processing. Probiotics can also be unstable during storage, typically restricting their use to refrigerated beverages with a short shelf life.”

SIG’s consumer insight manager Julia Trebels comments on some of the challenges involved: “A key factor in developing products with encapsulated probiotics is to ensure that the contents are homogenous, reproducible, and have equivalent amounts of probiotics per pack – this is also legally required for on-pack claims,” she says.

“SIG’s filling technology gently processes and fills the product with evenly distributed probiotics due to the agitation system before filling. The agitator exerts only a minimal mechanical stress on the product – this prevents cells from being destroyed.”

The beauty of the concept

The yoghurt can use existing SIG packaging material, and it can be filled with SIG’s standard filling technology. This concept helps to elevate ambient, long-life products to a healthier level and thus fits perfectly into SIG’s vision of providing more healthy food in aseptic packaging to our consumers.”

“Our innovative patented ‘encapsulation’ technology coats probiotic cells, such as Lactobacillus strains, with a protective layer. This allows the strains to withstand high temperatures during processing,” said Sinéad Bleiel, Founder of AnaBio Technologies.

“When the probiotic product is consumed, the coating is naturally broken down by digestive enzymes releasing the probiotic to colonize the small intestine and deliver their health benefits.

“Together with the expert team at SIG, we’re not only able to offer consumers probiotic products with unique health benefits, but also a longer product shelf life for greater convenience. It’s a real step-change innovation in the field of probiotic beverage products.”

Comments Christoph Wegener, chief markets officer at SIG: “With the creation of a new product category, both SIG and AnaBio are providing beverage and food manufacturers with a pioneering solution to overcome the current limitations of fresh probiotic beverages.

“Our innovation offers lower distribution costs as no refrigeration is required, longer shelf life, increased reach and less food wastage for both retailers and consumers.

“Aseptic probiotic yogurt drinks demonstrate our continuous drive to innovate to rapidly meet changing consumer needs, while offering high product quality and longer shelf life in sustainable packaging, with our aseptic carton packs are proven to be one of the most sustainable packaging solutions in the market.”